I, David Peck, chair the Governance Committee for one of HPCUMC’s long-standing mission endeavors: Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). IHN’s mission is “to provide homeless families with emergency shelter and hospitality through interfaith congregations.” Twenty-eight congregations (Temples, Mosques, Christian and Unitarian) in Greater Cincinnati provide temporary shelter and meals at night during the week. Transportation to and from schools and congregations is provided by IHN. Average temporary housing time at IHN for families is about twenty-seven days. Over 90% do not return to temporary shelters. Finding temporary placement for “families,” including pets, is scarce in our city. There is power in family, as the saying goes, and during the day IHN provides professional case management, addressing securing documents such as social security cards, birth certificates, drivers licenses, monitoring healthcare of all family members, providing self-improvement classes, and other supportive services that allow families to obtain housing and self-sufficiency. The IHN facility at 990 Nassau St. provides laundry, play areas, computers, lockers, showers, pet housing, and classrooms. With overwhelming support through the day facility and much love from congregations, we can help make an unhappy time better!
As many of you know, HPCUMC hosts families for four weeks a year, with our first host week of 2015 wrapping up just a few weeks ago. Sunday night is always the first night of the host week, and the guests usually arrive with some understandable apprehensions: what will this place and people be like; will they be nice; where will we sleep; will I like the food, etc. We try the best we can to make them feel welcome, safe and loved. Here is an excerpt from a letter one of the guests left with me:
“To everyone, volunteers, ministers. Thanks for being there for my family, for feeding us and letting us be able to rest in a warm, safe, clean place. I’m writing cause there are three things I asked your volunteers Mr. Steve, and Mrs. Tracey, for God to help me to stop smoking, a car to be able to transport my kids to school, doctor’s appts and etc. and a nice safe clean home for my kids……Thanks to IHN that blessed us. With our love, Anonymous.” The references to “Mr. Steve” and “Mrs. Tracey” are to Steve and Tracy Payling who graciously served that night with their daughter and several other families from our Childrens’ Ministry.
Kind words of comfort and prayer from total strangers made a difference in this woman’s life; it didn’t cost anything except love and time. We have three more weeks of hosting IHN this year – May 10, August 2, and September 6. We would encourage everyone who has a passion for supporting people in their transition back to permanent housing to join us by donating their time during the week to provide food, spend time with the families in the evenings, serving as the overnight host, etc. If you have interest, contact Sarah Putman at email@example.com or 871-1345.
David Peck and Laura Warren